Used 1996 Plymouth Neon Coupe

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1996 Plymouth Neon
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1996 Plymouth Neon

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Edmunds' Expert Review

vehicle overview

Welcome to the new model year. The hype is over and the dust has settled. The cutesy advertising no longer saturates the media, and focus has shifted to newer Chrysler products. Nasty production glitches and early recalls are fading from memory. It is time to examine the Neon for what it is and how well it stacks up to the competition..

The Ford Escort and Mercury Tracer are flat outdated next to this Plymouth. The Toyota Tercel is 40 horsepower and a personality off the mark. Nissan's new Sentra is bland in comparison. Chevy's Cavalier feels heavy and ponderous; ditto the Pontiac Sunfire. The Toyota Corolla is a fine car, but can't compete with the sheer value offered by the Neon. Neither can the Geo Prizm. Mazda Protege and Honda Civic suffer the same problem.

What about reliability, though? Well, if the surveys conducted by several independent firms around the country are any indication, the Neon suffers from hit-and-miss quality. Edmund's has received mail from folks who think it's the greatest car they've ever owned, and from others who wanted to know if their problems qualified for any lemon law protection. Overall, the impression we've gained is a favorable one, though we are hesitant to recommend this scrappy compact to those who've traditionally driven imports with Japanese badging.

The Neon combines practicality, performance and personality into one very affordable package. For 1996, the Neon gains standard equipment and revisions to the options list, as well as a new transparently named Expresso package aimed at so-called Generation X buyers who supposedly spend all their time slacking off at the Coffee Plantation sipping java. Base models get 14-inch wheels, body color bumpers, tinted glass and intermittent wipers. Sport models used to have antilock brakes and alloy wheels as standard equipment; this year they are optional. Also optional is a power sunroof and a gutsy twin cam 2.0-liter engine for the Sport sedan.

Expresso models include a decklid spoiler, power bulge hood, white wheelcovers and graphics, along with interior trim from the Sport, air conditioning, tachometer and rear defroster. Sold for less than $12,000, including destination charges, the Expresso will be tempting to first time buyers on a budget. We think they should go for our favorite, which is the base sedan or coupe equipped with the Competition package. Add air conditioning, and you've got a livable version of the car that Chrysler sponsors in amateur racing events nationwide. Also available is a bona fide GT coupe. Called the Nineties version of the original Volkswagen GTI by the automotive press, the Neon Sport Coupe is the most fun you can have for $15,000, aside from a used Mazda Miata.

Supposedly, the Neon is quieter this year. Other news includes the addition of a base coupe to the model mix, increased fuel tank capacity, a remote keyless entry system with panic mode, and a four spoke steering wheel which replaces last year's frumpy two spoke unit. Power windows are now optional on the coupe, and two new colors join the palette. Sadly, Nitro Yellow is canceled.

If Chrysler Corporation can quell consumer fears about the reliability of this little car and keep prices in line, there really won't be any point in shopping around. Just drop in to any Plymouth dealer and drive off in one of the best small cars available today.

1996 Highlights

Antilock brakes are optional across the line, and base models get more standard equipment for 1996. A value-packed Expresso package is aimed at 20-something first-time buyers. A base coupe is newly available, and all Neons are supposedly quieter than last year. A power moonroof joins the options list, and a remote keyless entry system with panic alarm is available.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 1996 Plymouth Neon.

Overall Consumer Rating

Most helpful consumer reviews

junk
hallrs,04/11/2009
My daughter bought this car when she turned 16. We thought it would get her through high school before she would have to buy another. Only a month after she got it the headgasket started to leak, then the water pump went out, the electrical in the dash keep shorting out, the drivers window track broke. This car is hopeless and only had 101,000 miles on it thought for sure she would get at least 30,000 more before it fell apart.I would never buy another neon.
When it runs it's a great car
redrees,06/16/2002
When this car runs it's a great car. It is good on gas and with a 5-speed acceleration is good. However, this is the least reliable car I have ever owned. I have put over $1,200 into it in the 5 months I have owned it. I had the car just over a week before it needed it's first repair. If you are buying this car cough up the money for an extended warrenty.
jeckyll & hyde car
neondriver,07/05/2002
I bought my 1996 sport coupe when it was brand new, and have had minor problems down the road, but I have racked up 101k miles on it, and it still runs pretty strong. Problem areas include: the map sensor, the brakes, & the A/C unit (I racked up a $1000 bill to fix it after warranty :(.) I had a lot of problems in the first few years, which soiled my image if the neon, but in its latter years, it is not doing too bad.
STAY AWAY FROM THIS CAR
PCS,08/18/2002
I bought 2 Neons (new). The years were 1996 and 1997. I've had nothing but problems with these cars!At 60,000 miles, on each car, the heads cracked. . I put thousands into the 1996 and nothing can stop the oil leaks and electrical problems. When the head gasket blew on the 1997, after much arm twisting, Chrysler replaced the engine (at a cost of 1,000 to me). Of course, the head gasket blew on the newer engine as well and the oil leaks just don't seem to be able to be repaired. I will never, ever ever ever buy a Chrysler car again due to the unreliability and immense cost of repairs.
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Features & Specs

MPG
24 city / 35 hwy
Seats 0
5-speed manual
Gas
132 hp @ 6000 rpm
MPG
24 city / 35 hwy
Seats 0
5-speed manual
Gas
132 hp @ 6000 rpm
MPG
24 city / 35 hwy
Seats 0
5-speed manual
Gas
132 hp @ 6000 rpm
See all Used 1996 Plymouth Neon Coupe features & specs

Safety

NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver4 / 5
    Passenger4 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    DriverNot Rated
    PassengerNot Rated
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    RolloverNot Rated
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of RolloverNot Rated
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Not Tested
  • Roof Strength Test
    Not Tested
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Not Tested
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test
    Poor

More about the 1996 Plymouth Neon
Used 1996 Plymouth Neon Coupe Overview

The Used 1996 Plymouth Neon Coupe is offered in the following styles: 2dr Coupe, Highline 2dr Coupe, and Sport 2dr Coupe.

What's a good price on a Used 1996 Plymouth Neon Coupe?

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Which used 1996 Plymouth Neon Coupes are available in my area?

Used 1996 Plymouth Neon Coupe Listings and Inventory

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Can't find a used 1996 Plymouth Neon Neon Coupe you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Plymouth Neon for sale - 10 great deals out of 19 listings starting at $13,146.

Find a used Plymouth for sale - 1 great deals out of 24 listings starting at $23,522.

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Find a used certified pre-owned Plymouth for sale - 3 great deals out of 8 listings starting at $24,991.

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Should I lease or buy a 1996 Plymouth Neon?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

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